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NY and NJ lawmakers press Ryan on Gateway project funding

NY and NJ lawmakers press Ryan on Gateway project funding
© Greg Nash

A group of Republican lawmakers from New York and New Jersey met with Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Revising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices MORE (R-Wis.) on Wednesday to emphasize the importance of a multibillion-dollar rail project the Trump administration has backed away from in recent months.

Rep. Leonard LanceLeonard LanceThomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski Gun debate to shape 2020 races GOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs MORE (R-N.J.) said he asked for the meeting, which comes as a vote on the upcoming omnibus spending bill appears to move to next week. Reps. Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingTop GOP lawmakers call for Swalwell to be removed from Intelligence Committee Republican Garbarino wins election to replace retiring Rep. Pete King Katko announces bid to serve as top Republican on Homeland Security panel MORE (R-N.Y.), Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinWyoming county votes to censure Liz Cheney for Trump impeachment vote GOP divided over Liz Cheney's future READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-N.Y.), Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.), Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? Woman tased, arrested for trespassing for not wearing mask at Ohio football game China sanctioning Rubio, Cruz in retaliatory move over Hong Kong MORE (R-N.J.), Tom MacArthurThomas (Tom) Charles MacArthurChamber-backed Democrats embrace endorsements in final stretch Republican David Richter wins NJ primary in race to challenge Rep. Andy Kim What to watch in New Jersey's primaries on Tuesday MORE (R-N.J.), Frank LoBiondoFrank Alo LoBiondoVan Drew-Kennedy race in NJ goes down to the wire Van Drew wins GOP primary in New Jersey Amy Kennedy wins NJ primary to face GOP's Van Drew MORE (R-N.J.) and John FasoJohn James FasoDemocrats go big on diversity with new House recruits Kyle Van De Water wins New York GOP primary to challenge Rep. Antonio Delgado The most expensive congressional races of the last decade MORE (R-N.Y.) also participated.

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“The president has indicated that he might veto it,” Lance told reporters. “But Paul Ryan has no problem with Gateway funding.”

The Gateway project, a series of rail programs aimed at rebuilding passenger rail connection under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey, has been a sticking point in ongoing negotiations over the spending bill ahead of a March 23 deadline.

The White House last week threatened to veto the legislation if it includes $900 million in funding for the project. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation said it opposes financing Gateway in the impending omnibus, but does not have an issue with the project itself.

Lance told The Hill that it's "unclear" why the president is opposed to funding the project in the omnibus, but said he believes it's part of a "dispute" between Trump and Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader US Chamber of Commerce to Biden, Congress: Business community 'ready to help' Why pretend senators can 'do impartial justice'? MORE (D-N.Y.).

"I think Sen. Schumer should move on some of the appointments the president has made to fill his own administration,” Lance said.

He also argued that a spending bill stripped of Gateway funding won't pass the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim 51-seat majority but will need 60 votes to pass the omnibus.

New York and New Jersey lawmakers have pressed Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader FDA chief says he was 'disgusted' by Capitol riots, considered resigning McMaster: Trump running again would be 'terribly divisive' MORE over the project this month as she appears in front of multiple congressional committees to testify about the Trump administration’s infrastructure proposal.

Chao argues New York and New Jersey should put up more money for the project, which the states hope to fund using government loans like Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF). 

Schumer, Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerSenate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration Officials brace for second Trump impeachment trial MORE (D-N.J.), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in 2015 announced they had reached a deal with the Obama administration in which the federal government would fund half of the project.

But the Trump administration in recent months has taken a different approach, with the Federal Transit Administration denying the presence of an agreement for the federal government to split the cost with the two states. The Transportation Department also withdrew from the program’s board last summer.

Despite the Trump administration’s pushback on the project's funding, Lance said he “hope[s] and expect[s] that it continues to be in the bill." 

“This was not a meeting with the White House. This was a meeting where we explained our position to Speaker Ryan,” Lance said.